PRODUCTION UPDATE: The end of the beginning

May 29, 2009

We’ve just wrapped up our first round of principal photography on Dear Mandela. The last few days flew. We interviewed Government Housing Spokesperson Lennox Mabaso to find out what local government thinks about the Shack Dwellers’ Movement and their Slums Act case at the Constitutional Court. We visited Lamontville aka ‘Silver City’ (named for the shiny corrugated iron it’s made of) which is one of the hundreds of new transit camps being built across the country. This is where those awaiting government houses are kept, often after being forcibly removed from their shacks. And most importantly, we spent lots of time ‘videorizing’ with our characters. [Videorizing is a word coined by the shack dwellers, we think it's a vast improvement from 'shooting'!]

As our time in Durban drew to a close, we began to make plans for next time. Our hope is to raise enough funds to come back in September for a second round of filming. We are also awaiting the Constitutional Court decision on the Slums Act case, and hope to be in South Africa for this important moment. Over the next few weeks we will begin editing the almost sixty hours of footage we have into a 25-minute fundraising piece. It’s been incredible to be here for the past six weeks. Our characters have opened their lives and their hearts to us, and we have begun to delve into a fascinating story that we are sure audiences around the world will find moving, inspiring and challenging. As evictions of shack dwellers continue to rise in slums around the world, the need for governments and landowners to treat shack dwellers with dignity, is as important as ever.

It’s been wonderful to be in contact with you, our ‘fans’! Every day, new people become fans - thank you for spreading the word, asking questions and making comments. Stay tuned for dispatches from the edit suite!


Filming with Mnikelo - he's reading the great new article about the shack dwellers' Constitutional Court case in the Mail & Guardian (there's a link to it in a previous note) 


Foreman Rd, Durban. Mnikelo in the shop where he works.


Dara and Zama, filming inside Zama's shack. There are two numbers on the door - she told us that every year around election time, they come and spraypaint a new number on the door - this is a promise for a house. Some shacks have four numbers. Another election, another promise, another number. They aren't heard from again until the next election.


Mazwi and Dara - Joe Slovo, Durban. This was taken after our very last interview, the last day we were in Durban. We went way over schedule, but because he was so lucid we just couldn't cut! The next hour was absolutely crazy rushed, and we only just made our flight.